Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"...Unless the US makes the necessary corrections soon, it risks losing Afghanistan & Pakistan to the Islamists"

F B Ali (retired) via SST, here

"The United States is pursuing a policy in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theatre that risks an outcome that would combine the fiascos of Vietnam and the Shah’s Iran. It could lead not only to the loss of Afghanistan but also that of Pakistan, with consequences that are frightening to contemplate. What underlies this disaster in the making is a failure to comprehend the real problem the US faces in the region, and the resulting pursuit of solutions that not only do no good but instead make matters worse. Understanding the Enemy The first failure lies in misunderstanding the nature of the enemy confronting the US, and the goals that enemy is pursuing. The enemy is not al-Qaeda “terrorists” hiding in the mountains, plotting terror attacks on the US and the West. The Bush administration propagated this notion (of a worldwide Islamist terror network, led by al-Qaeda, forever planning attacks on the US and the West) in order to win support for its scheme to wage unending war, at home and abroad, on whomever it chose to designate as an enemy. Even though the new administration has dropped the use of the GWOT term, the false concepts underlying it continue to seriously contaminate US policy discourse and thinking. The enemy the US faces in the ‘Af-Pak’ theatre is a grouping of Islamists with different agendas that happen to coincide for the time being. Al-Qaeda and its associates (including the Haqqanis and Hikmatyar) are political Islamists, whose aim is to establish the political, economic and military power of Islam – by repelling Western encroachments on Muslim countries and ultimately taking them over. Political Islamists also exist in Pakistani society and state structures (as they do in every Muslim country). The majority of the groups that are collectively known as the Taliban are religious Islamists, whose primary aim is to establish their brand of orthodoxy among Muslim populations; they are not too concerned about political and economic issues. (“Terrorists”, who blow themselves and others up, are brainwashed unfortunates used by both the other groups; they are low-rent cannon fodder, not the enemy).
The principal foe the US faces is the political Islamists, because it is their goals (not the Taliban’s) that clash with vital US interests. The Western military presence and operations in the area have led to the goals of both types of Islamists converging, and this has enabled the political Islamists to use the Taliban as foot soldiers in their campaign to defeat the West in Afghanistan. But the missteps of US foreign and military policy have suddenly opened up for them the prospect of a takeover in Pakistan. ......... the US, with the help of the ‘Northern Alliance’ provinces, a revitalized Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and its own proximate military power, can ensure that al-Qaeda does not again establish bases in Afghanistan...... As a result the United States is pursuing a wrong policy in this theatre: fighting the wrong enemy on the wrong battlefield. Unless it realizes this, and makes the necessary corrections soon, it risks losing both Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Islamists."

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